Salmon Studies

Coastal Habitats & Species—Salmon Studies

Summary: Through the study salmon behavior, anatomy, and life cycles, students learn how salmon are connected to both inland watersheds and the ocean. Students discover some of the challenges salmon face during migration.

Concepts to teach: Adaptations, survival, migration, freshwater vs. saltwater habitats

Goals: Students will learn about the unique life cycle and migration habits of salmon and how they find their way back to their freshwater breeding grounds.

3.1L.1, 3.2L.1, 4.2L.1, 5.2L.1

Specific Objectives:

  1. Construct a mnemonic device as a way to remember the stages of the salmon life cycle.
  2. Investigate salmon anatomy and adaptations.
  3. Use sense of smell to locate a home stream.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Smelling like a Fish adapted from Salmon Watch
  • The 550-page Stream Scene curriculum is available in .pdf format on the ODFW website, and covers a variety of watershed topics. The chapter Aquatic Organisms contains several lessons having to do with salmon, including:
    • Riffles and Pools, p. 357—“Students will apply concepts learned about habitat needs of salmonids during their life cycle by completing a work sheet analyzing riffles and pools.”
    • Coming Home, p. 373—“Students will investigate, write, and produce an advertising campaign, in a poster format, that features reasons for salmonids to migrate to a specific stream to spawn.”
  • Salmon Life Cycle Hexaflexagon from the Bonneville Power Administration—Paper craft project sequences a salmon life cycle
  • Salmon dissection
  • Consider rearing salmon in the classroom. For more information, visit the Animals in the Classroom topic guide in OCEP Module 2.
  • Visit the Oregon Hatchery Research Center or a hatchery closer to your school
  • Do the self-guided OHRC Quest, which is a clue-directed interpretive hunt created by 8th graders at Crestview Heights School in Waldport
  • Make your own Quest or other interpretive guide that helps the public learn about salmon and salmon habitat


  • Draw and label the external and internal anatomy of a salmonid.
  • Construct and explain the salmon hexaflexagon as it relates to salmon life cycles.